Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality

Author: Gayle Salamon

Published: Columbia University Press, 2010

Services: Editing, indexing

We believe we know our bodies intimately—that their material reality is certain and that this certainty leads to an epistemological truth about sex, gender, and identity. By exploring and giving equal weight to transgender subjectivities, however, Gayle Salamon upends these certainties.

Considering questions of transgendered embodiment via phenomenology (Maurice Merleau-Ponty), psychoanalysis (Sigmund Freud and Paul Ferdinand Schilder), and queer theory, Salamon advances an alternative theory of normative and non-normative gender, proving the value and vitality of trans experience for thinking about embodiment.

Examining the relationship between material and phantasmatic accounts of bodily being, Salamon emphasizes the productive tensions that make the body both present and absent in our consciousness and work to confirm and unsettle gendered certainties. She questions traditional theories that explain how the body comes to be—and comes to be made one’s own—and she offers a new framework for thinking about what “counts” as a body. The result is a groundbreaking investigation into the phenomenological life of gender.

* Book description from publisher

Cover of Gayle Salamon's book Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality. Cover shows a person's bare back, with another person's arm reaching toward them and another arm crossed across the cover, overlaid with a image of telephone poles in a dusty field

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